Art for Home: Interior Styling tips from Kate Watson-Smyth

By Tom Best

Published 29th Nov 2019

Kate Watson-Smyth is the journalist, author, podcaster and consultant behind the, multi-award-winning, interior styling blog Mad About the House.  

Mad About the House provides countless tips on how to transform any house into a beautiful home. From choosing the right shade of paint to stunning interior photography, the blog is an incredible source of information and inspiration.

Ahead of The Christmas Auction, Tom Best caught up with Kate to hear her top tips on what to look for when furnishing a home and what has caught her eye in our last auction of the year.


Kate, it is wonderful to chat all things art with you today, thank you so much for taking the time to do so. You once said that “Your home should tell your story. It should make your heart sing when you open the front door.” Does artwork play an important role in this?

Yes! It all adds to the telling of the story in your home and there is nothing like losing yourself in a picture that you really love.

Your interiors combine a lovely balance of old and new, but is it important for artworks in an interior to follow a specific set of rules or theme?

No! I think you should buy what you love. Always. And if you fall in love with something that doesn’t fit in the room you were shopping for then put it in another room and keep hunting. Don’t buy something just because it goes with the cushions. Far better to love the picture and use that as a jumping off point for your décor.

What do you look for when buying a work of art, do you always have a particular space in mind for the piece?

I buy what I love and worry about where to put it afterwards.

What is the story behind the first piece you ever bought and where is it now?

I have a Charming Baker of the starling that says Fucker on it. Starlings are great imitators and for years there was one that lived in the tree outside our bedroom window and made the noise of a car alarm for its dawn chorus. When I saw that picture I had to buy it. The starling has moved to another tree, the picture remains on the wall. 

With that in mind, what has caught your eye in The Christmas Auction?

I’m drawn to Lot 48 the Edward Hopley and I love Lot 58 the Patrick Prockter which is a classic example of buying what you love rather than what you think you should have as that doesn’t go with anything in my house but I would make it work.

Many of our readers are just about to embark on their first art buying journey and transform their home with artwork - what top tip can you leave them with?

Don’t get too hung up on the right size. Often a small painting hung low and off centre can be more arresting than something large that fills the space. Alternatively buy paintings in groups  - that doesn’t have to mean sets – but two or three smaller ones that go together rather than one huge one.

Also don’t hang it too high. About 30 cm over the back of the sofa or eye level with the average person standing in front of it. Try to avoid a straight line with the tops of doors and windows - go lower.

Finally, check the view from the room or corridor outside. Does the door frame create an extra frame for the picture and draw you into the room? That can be a good trick too.

And finally, how can our readers keep hearing more of what you are up to?

The blog:

Instagram: @mad_about_the_house

Kate Watson-Smyth – thank you very much!

You can find more about Kate’s work at her Mad About the House blog or by downloading her podcast 'The Great Indoors' (available on Apple Podcasts and Google Podcasts).